Day 4 – Robben Island

We woke this morning to a magical day. The clouds had cleared and from our apartment we could clearly see Table Mountain and into the bay.

It was the first chance to have a good look at the apartment from the outside, and we found a roof top terrace, complete with pool and BBQ areas, as well as panoramic views over Cape Town and the V and A Waterfront. It really was (is) something special.

First excursion for the day was to Robben Island. A 15 minute walk to the marina, then a 30 minute ferry ride out to the island. I knew we were in trouble when we left the marina and quickly entered about a 3 meter swell. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best while Ros and the kids didn’t fare so well. By the time we reached the island, we were all feeling queezy, but had managed to keep our breakfast down.

First up was a bus tour of the island, pointing our a number of features. It was all very interesting, and a bit over grown. Josh was kept amused by the small land turtles (tortoises) that were running all over the island. Every time the bus pulled up, there was one outside the window, chewing on the yellow flowers and grass that covered the island.

Following the bus tour, we entered the Maximum Security Prison where Spark was our guide. He took us into F Wing and a large group cell and explained that he had actually been a prisoner on the island, and had spent 7 years in that very cell.

Spark was a political prisoner and had been incarcerated for sabotage, as well as having weapons and explosives. He explained that he was a political prisoner and and had been involved in recruiting people to the ANC military wing, as well as training them.  It was all very interesting, and certainly a different to the way politics is done back home.

We then visited a couple of exercise yards and finally D block, including cell 7, which was home to Nelson Mandela. A 2m x 3m cell, it had no comforts.

The most interesting thing to me from the trip was Stark explaining that in spite of the conditions and the treatment, the prisoners harbored no ill feelings towards the island or the guards, and a number of both prisoners and guards had returned to live on the island and work as tour guides. In a lot of cases they were now even friends.

The boat ride back to the mainland was better, with the swell dropping considerably, plus we managed to get a seat outside in the air. I had a great chat with an American tourist who gave us a few “must sees” for our venture to the US later in the year.

Current Location – Cape Town
Next Stop – Table Mountain and Cape Town Town Tour

One thought on “Day 4 – Robben Island

  1. Wow. What an interesting story from Spark. Makes me wonder how that sort of dynamic was created. That is certainly not the case, nor has it ever been, in our prison system.

Leave a Reply